'Regulate, don't give deathblow', warns Solidarity

Trade union Solidarity said on Wednesday that regulation, not a “deathblow”, was needed to deal with the issue of labour broking, warning of potential job losses.

The trade union also criticised the alleged efforts by Cabinet to ignore findings in a report on the impact of the proposed amendments to labour legislation, the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA).

The report claims, according to Solidarity, that hundreds and thousands of job opportunities may be lost if amendments are implemented.

Solidarity said the Solidarity Research Institute (SRI) would release a comprehensive report on the implications of the proposed amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Employment Equity Act and the Labour Relations Act, as well as the publication of the Employment Services Bill, soon.

“The trade union will submit the findings in the report to Parliament. Public hearings regarding these bills started in Cape Town yesterday. The public have until February 17 to comment on the proposed amendments,” Solidarity said.

Johan Kruger, head of the SRI, said it was clear that the proposed amendments could have severe negative consequences.

“The labour market would come under severe pressure if labour brokers were, in effect, to be declared redundant, if restrictions were to be imposed on strikes and if the director general of labour’s powers were to be expanded,” Kruger said.

Although the proposals did not impose a direct and complete ban on labour brokers, they essentially declare the function of labour brokers redundant, he said.

“The likely result of certain clauses, for example, determining who the employer of labour broker employees is, is that fewer of these employees will be able to be contracted.
In addition, this legislation will not necessarily result in an increase in permanent appointments, which could lead to a crisis,” Kruger warned.

“The responsible regulation of the industry is crucial, but the present proposals will have a more negative than positive effect on job creation and could jeopardise the jobs of an estimated 850 000 employees who currently work in this system. It is essential that a healthy balance is found between the protection of employees and job security.”

There were about 2,13-million employees who were classified as temporary or seasonal employees in South Africa in 2007, according to the RIA.

“The RIA states clearly that the proposed amendments to legislation regarding temporary employees could eventually lead to a rise in unemployment,” Kruger said.

“To go ahead with the proposed amendments in spite of warnings in the RIA would be unwise, as thousands of employees could be deprived of an indispensable income.

“In addition, proposals on the restriction of employees’ right to go on strike are unfair. Solidarity is completely in favour of responsible strikes, as they are a very important instrument for employees to exercise pressure,” Kruger said.—I-Net Bridge

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